Road to Cuba: Anna Cockrell, Blog #2

by Steve Underwood

During these final weeks leading up to and including our 2015 Caribbean Scholastic Invitational in Cuba, two of the participating athletes are blogging for us: Anna Cockrell and Dylan Peebles (see his blog HERE).

Anna is a junior at Providence Day School in Charlotte, North Carolina. She is one of the nation's top combo hurdlers and sprinters, with her biggest accomplishment to date being a runner-up finish in the NBNI 60m hurdles (US#2 8.21, #5 all-time). Last spring, she was 3rd in the 100H and 4th in the 400H at NBNO. We look forward to her being part of our Team NSAF!


In my first blog, I mentioned that my school was going for our third straight NCISAA 3A state championship.  I'm proud to say that both our girls' and boys' teams were able to pull off the threepeat!  It was a great meet, as there were plenty of PRs and state records broken. 

I ran the 100m hurdles, the open 100, 300m hurdles and the 4x400m relay.  While I've struggled with it in the past, I was definitely the happiest with my 300 hurdle time.  I dropped from a 42.68 to a 41.31, and at the time it was US#2. 

My favorite thing about states (aside from my individual events and winning it all!) was the team experience and the bonding that took place.  Everyone -- the distance kids, the sprinters, jumpers, and throwers -- spent time cheering for their teammates when they weren't competing in their own events.  During the 4x4, the entire team spread out around the track to cheer us on.  So every step of the way, it felt like my teammates were right there running with me.  The team has done this for the past three years, but it's still just as special as it was my freshman year. 

Even though my school season ended, I couldn't let up on my training.  My coach started pushing me harder in both the 100m hurdles and 400m hurdles.  The first few weeks were difficult, especially because I was taking my final exams at the same time.  I was battling sleep deprivation and exam stress, but practice helped alleviate it.

Once exams ended and the excitement from my sister's graduation started to calm down, I really was able to put all of my focus into practice.  Hurdling is so technical, so even though we've been emphasizing it all year, I'm still working on keeping my trail leg tight and pulling it through quickly.  I'm also working on snapping my lead leg down faster.  For the 400m hurdles, my main issue has been that I don't conserve enough energy during the first part of my race.  To remedy this, my coach has had me work on running more relaxed, with my shoulders down.

I think all of the changes in training have really started to pay off.  Last Saturday, I went to the NC Runners Elite Tune-Up meet in Weddington, North Carolina.  I went 13.21 in 100m hurdles, which is a huge PR and US#3 right now.  I also ran my season best in 400m hurdles at 60.26.  I still have work to do in both events, but I feel like I'm getting there.

Right now, we're sitting in the lobby of our hotel in Miami.  Pretty soon we'll leave for the airport and be on our way to Cuba!  I can't believe this trip and this meet are here already.  It came so quickly, I feel like I was just finding out I made the team last week.  I met most of my teammates yesterday when I first got to the hotel and during lunch.  It was nice to put names to faces, as I knew of a lot of the people on the team because of their high ranking performances, but I didn't personally know them all that well. I'm just really excited for this entire experience!

The nerves for the meet haven't set in yet, and they probably won't until Thursday night.  So at the moment I can just relax and enjoy spending time with my teammates and coaches.  We got our uniforms and our bags last night, and everything is incredibly nice.  This is the first time I've been on a team and gotten free gear, so I was definitely freaking out a little bit!

I plan on running both hurdle events at the meet this weekend, and I'll try and get on a relay if time permits.  We're getting ready to leave for the airport, so hopefully in my next blog I'll get to write about what a great trip we had!

Photo courtesy of Jeff George,

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